News Minute: Here is the latest Minnesota news from The Associat - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

News Minute: Here is the latest Minnesota news from The Associated Press at 8:40 a.m. CST

Updated:

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota health officials say there's an increase in the number of chickenpox cases this year. Department of Health spokesman Doug Schultz says nearly 400 cases have been reported, the highest number since 2013 when about 480 cases were reported. Schultz says there's an outbreak of 15 cases in one Hennepin County school and another six cases in Stearns County.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota Sen. Al Franken says Tina Smith will be an "excellent" U.S. senator in his place. But Franken still isn't setting a date when he'll step down. Franken said last week that he would depart "in coming weeks" after he was accused by several women of improper conduct. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday appointed Smith, his lieutenant governor, to fill fellow Democrat Franken's seat until a special election next November.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The elevation of Minnesota's Republican state Senate president to lieutenant governor as part of a chain reaction after U.S. Sen. Al Franken's resignation will likely lead to a legal fight over whether she can hold two jobs. If Democrats prevail, it would mean Republicans lose their slim majority in the state Senate, at least temporarily. Gov. Mark Dayton's selection of his second-in-command could cause him headaches in Minnesota's Capitol.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - PolyMet is offering Minnesota a $544 million package of financial assurances in connection to a copper-nickel mine it wants to build in northeastern Minnesota. The money would serve as insurance to protect taxpayers from potentially having to cover the costs of shutting down and cleaning up the mine. The company says the package of bonds, letters of credit and a trust fund is sufficient to cover all costs. But critics say such mines have a long track record of environmental damage and costs.

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